Some headlines convey a potential benefit; others convey a problem. Gappers, though, says advertising maven Michel Fortin, make people want to close the gap between the two, so they keep reading. Headlines, he adds, can be newsy, sensational, controversial, intriguing, or inspiring, but "all that matters is that headlines get readers to keep reading".
In fact, Fortin compares headlines to resumes, which are not meant to land a job, but to land an interview. "Headlines are the ads for the ad copy," he teaches.
Two Fortin tips on "gappers" are excellent advice for business bloggers, I find:
- Adding a negative situation to the headline is effective, because it appeals to more dominant emotions of readers. It’s more powerful, Fortin tells plastic surgeons, to ask, "Suffering from wrinkles?" than "Do you have wrinkles?" Rather than saying "Lose 40 pounds in 6 weeks!", it would be more powerful to say "Shed 40 pounds of disease-causing fat in just 6 weeks!"
In other words, think of a negative situation that is now present, or one that will be without your product or service, and write your headline about it. That draws readers into the copy of the blog post, where you explain how they can close the gap between the bad situation and the solution.
- Start the headline with a verb, painting as vivid a picture as possible, advises Fortin. "Zoom Past the Confusion" is a much better headline than "Get More Clarity!" Rather than saying "Poor Fiscal Management Leads to Financial Woes", he says, try "Don’t Let Poor Fiscal Management Suck Money From Your Bottom Line!".
As a professional ghost blogger and blogging trainer, I think Fortin’s onto something with the "gapper" idea. After all, SEO and keyword phrases get searchers to your blog. The first thing they see on the Google (or Bing, etc.) page is – your title. Now you’ve got to pass readers’ "So what? What’s In It For Me?" test.
Headlines that make people want to close the gap between:
- Where they are & where they would like to be
- The problem & the solution
- The puzzle or dilemma & the answer
– those are gappers!
(With profuse apologies to the late President Reagan, each time you write a blog, tell yourself – this one’s for the Gapper!)